Sunday, 23 August 2009

Publication of Lord of the Flies

After last week's sensationalised rape story, today's Sunday Times begins its serialisation of John Carey's forthcoming biography with his account of the publication of Lord of the Flies. Much of this has been done before, not least by Golding's editor at Faber, Charles Monteith, who tells how he rescued the tea-stained manuscript from the slush-pile. But Carey pulls the different sources together effectively, pointing out (for example) that Golding's cover letter was 'scarcely alluring':

Dear Sir

I send you the typescript of my novel 'Strangers from Within' which might be defined as an allegorical interpretation of a stock situation.

I hope you will feel able to publish it.

Yours faithfully

William Golding

Faber's reader has scrawled along the top of the letter that the novel is an 'Absurd and uninteresting fantasy', and concludes with the verdict 'Rubbish & dull'. Far more remarkable even than Monteith's talent for spotting what everyone else had missed must have been the diligence with which he carried out his job. Faced with a report like that, and a dog-eared manuscript which had evidently done the rounds of the publishing houses already, very few hard-pressed editors would have spent more than a minute before scribbling a kindly rejection note.

Update --- thanks to Sean Hewitt for pointing out that there is now a link to the Sunday Times serialisation: here.

1 comment:

  1. The Sunday Times article is now online at